NBC Learns From Firefox

Posted by Linda W. Braun

A few weeks ago I heard about a promotion from Firefox. The open source browser software asked fans/users to create a video ad for the software. The response and promotions were said to be very good. When I heard two Firefox employees talk about the project, they mentioned that when they presented this marketing technique at a conference other companies bombarded them with questions about how they could do it too.

One of the highlights of what I heard from the Firefox employees was that the fans showed great loyalty to the product through their videos and interest in the project. There was the sense that because Firefox was a model in the open source community fans were willing to create the promos because of the open nature of the product.

Now it’s happening in a larger context and I wonder if fandom and altruism continues to play a role. NBC has started just such a campaign on YouTube for The Office. Fans of the show are invited to create 20 second promotions with the winning videos appearing on the NBC website.

What’s this got to do with teens and libraries? Well, first it’s pretty cool that anyone – including a teen – can make a promo for a favorite product or TV show. Second, it shows, once again, the power of teen technology use. My Space and YouTube are popular sites of teens. Once that popularity is discovered media comes a-knocking. In other words don’t forget that the teens in your community have a lot of power in making things happen.

From a developmental asset approach, this power is a really good thing. Teens need to know they have important roles to play in the community and the world. They need to feel like they have a positive future. They need to know that others listen to them.

Is there a negative to this use of teen-led media by advertisers? Does it make a difference if teens are able to continue to use the tools as they were before the marketers arrived? Does the marketing actually give teens the chance to see how advertising works and provide opportunities for analysis and reflection? Do teens benefit as much as marketers since the teens actually get to define the use of the technology to interested businesses? Don’t adults need to realize that teens actually do understand about advertising and marketing and realize teens know when their technology has been taken over?

I don’t have answers at the moment but I’m thinking.